Mariners 6, Tigers 4
Johjima watched seven pitches—diving, spinning, slow and fast—and fouled off four of them in the sixth inning. Then he saw a floating, 76 mph curveball and belted it for a game-breaking grand slam that sent the Seattle Mariners to a 6-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
Miguel Batista held the highest scoring team in the major leagues to one run in six innings before Johjima’s second career slam soared into Seattle’s bullpen beyond left-center field to blow open a 2-1 game and send the AL Central-leading Tigers to their second loss in eight games.
Johjima pointed through the open roof of Safeco Field on his home run trot, a tribute to his family watching back home in Japan on national television there. His family saw Seattle win for the fifth time in six games.
“I’m sure he threw me everything he had in that at-bat,” a smiling Johjima said through an interpreter.
Said Mariners manager John McLaren of the 42-year-old Rogers: “You’re talking about the craftsmen of all craftsmen. He threw everything in but the kitchen sink there.”
Rogers (3-1) allowed five hits and five earned runs for his first defeat since last Oct. 1, when he allowed two runs in a two-inning start while preparing for the postseason—in which he went 3-0 and threw 23 scoreless innings.
The 42-year-old missed the first 11 weeks of the season because of surgery to remove a blood clot in his pitching shoulder, but had allowed just two total earned runs while winning his first three starts.
Rogers, starting for the first time in 10 days, was bothered most by a lack of control in spurts—he walked two consecutive batters to load the bases in two different innings. The second time came right before Johjima’s slam.
“I don’t like walking four guys a night, whether it’s a week off or a month off or whatever,” Rogers said.
All-Star J.J. Putz got the final four outs—striking out the side in the ninth—for his 26th save. He hasn’t blown one in 28 chances dating to Sept. 30, 2006, a Mariners record. Seattle improved to 44-1 when leading after seven innings.
How did breaking Eddie Guardado’s record from 2005 feel?
“Cold,” said Putz, who was soaked in a celebratory shower of three flavors of iced, canned beer from his roaring teammates in the clubhouse.
“He is obviously one of the best in baseball,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He might be at the head of the class.”
Batista (9-7) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two before leaving with a finger blister McLaren described as minor. Batista has given up just seven earned runs total in his last five starts.
Detroit rallied with three runs in the eighth, two on Carlos Guillen’s single off Chris Reitsma. Recently hobbled Raul Ibanez, wearing newly fitted shoes, then raced to left field warning track to make a running catch of Ivan Rodriguez’s drive with a man on.
Richie Sexson led off the fourth with a double to end an 0-for-17 skid. He advanced to third on a ground out. With two outs, Yuniesky Betancourt lined a single to put Seattle up 2-1. As the ball zoomed over his head, Rogers yelled at himself for hanging the breaking pitch.
Rogers made two mistakes on one play that cost him Seattle’s first run. Sexson led off the second with a grounder to the right of the mound that Rogers picked up, then dropped. The five-time Gold Glove winner then turned and threw without looking wide of first base for a two-base error. After consecutive walks, Jose Lopez brought home Sexson with a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers got to third base twice against Batista, after Curtis Granderson led off the game with his 13th home run. But when Brandon Inge ran around third on a bloop single by Placido Polanco, right fielder Jose Guillen threw out Inge by three steps at home to cut down the go-ahead run and end the third.
And when Polanco walked in the sixth and eventually got to third base with Seattle leading 2-1, Batista struck out Rodriguez on an 89 mph breaking pitch.
Polanco was playing for the first time since starting Tuesday’s All-Star game because of a sore back. … Magglio Ordonez, the AL batting leader, went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in the fourth. Leyland replaced him with Ryan Raburn in the seventh because he said Ordonez’s heel “was a little tender.” Ordonez is 1-for-11 in the series. … 3B Inge reached over a short wall and fell completely into an aisle, two rows deep in the seats while making a catch of Ibanez’s foul pop to end the fifth. A smiling Rogers put his arm across Inge’s shoulders in an appreciative hug.